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B.C. dentists face mask shortage, other challenges before reopening

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Summary

Before they can open their offices, B.C. dentists still face several challenges

A shortage of medical masks is one issue the province is looking to fix

Provincial dental association is looking at what procedures are still safe, what needs to change

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It may be months before routine check-ups are possible as B.C. dentists continue to face challenges ahead of reopening offices.

Alistair Nichol, with the BC Dental Association, says one of the key components to opening up practices is having enough N95 type masks to protect patients and dentists, but there’s not enough to go around.

“That is something that we are going to have to overcome before the new normal will resemble what it used to look like, so we are somewhat limited in what we can do for patients in the short-term unless the supply chain issues can be resolved,” he says.

With a worldwide shortage of masks, Nichol says the scarce supply is a reality in all sectors of health care.

“Once that supply chain has been backfilled, I think we’ll be successful in obtaining these masks through other means for dental offices. That is a work in progress.”

The Fernie dentist is working with the provincial association to also decide what procedures can be still be done safely and what needs to change.

“We need to establish whether we should be using the ultrasonic scaler immediately or whether we should go back and do more hand scaling for the time being to establish more clearly whether an ultrasonic scaler contributes to aerosol formations,” he explains.

Nichol says while the province works on securing more face masks, dentists are looking at prioritizing more urgent care procedures like root canals where the work started but wasn’t finished before offices closed.

If anyone has any dental issues, they are asked to call 811 or their dentist to assess the urgency of the matter.